WORCESTER, Mass. – Holy Cross senior outfielder Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.) went 5-for-8 with three runs scored and four RBIs to help lead the Crusaders to a series sweep of Bucknell in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Baseball Tournament Saturday afternoon at Fitton Field. Holy Cross won the first contest, 9-6, and claimed the victory in game two, 3-0. Sophomore pitcher Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.) tossed 7.1 scoreless innings in the second game, picking up his seventh win of the season.
Holy Cross improves to 28-23 overall, while the Bison conclude their season at 16-33. The No. 1 seeded Crusaders are set to take on No. 3 Army next weekend in the Patriot League Tournament championship series at Fitton Field. The Black Knights won both of their games versus second-seeded Navy on Saturday afternoon.
In the first game of the twinbill, Bucknell scored the opening run of the contest in the top of the second inning as Rob Krentzman scored on an RBI-single by Anthony Gingerelli to make the score 1-0. Holy Cross answered in the bottom half of the third inning. Freshman designated hitter Connor Perry (Haverhill, Mass.) walked to lead off the frame. After Perry moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt, junior second baseman Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.) pushed across Perry on a fielding error by the shortstop. Puentes then drove in Barry during the next at-bat on an RBI-triple down the right-field line to make the score 2-1 in favor of Holy Cross.
The Bison countered with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning, including a solo home run by Joe Ogren to give them the 3-2 advantage. Holy Cross, however, blew the game wide open with six runs in the bottom half of the fourth. Junior captain Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) drew a walk to begin the frame and scored during the next at-bat on an RBI-double by classmate Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.). Crusader senior catcher Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) then plated Cipolla on an RBI-single through the right side to give Holy Cross the 4-3 lead.
Perry reached first on a walk and senior shortstop Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) loaded the bases, as he was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Puentes lined a single up the middle to score Wadsworth and Perry to put the Crusaders ahead 6-3. Holy Cross senior first baseman Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) then ripped a single through the left side to score Maldonado and Puentes and give the Crusaders the 8-3 advantage.
Bucknell did not go away easy, scoring three runs in the top of the sixth to cut the deficit to 8-6. The Crusaders added one final insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Puentes drove in his fourth run of the contest on and RBI-single to make the score its final, 9-6.
Holy Cross senior starting pitcher Tom Marra (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) picked up the victory (4-4), tossing five innings and allowing six runs (five earned) and six hits, while fanning three batters. Senior pitcher Andrew Boyce (Avon, Conn.) pitched 2.1 scoreless innings of relief, allowing only two hits and striking out a pair. Senior captain John Colella (Herndon, Va.) picked up his seventh save of the season with 1.2 innings pitched and three strikeouts. Bryson Hough was charged with the loss (3-6), surrendering six earned runs and four hits over 0.2 innings pitched.
Puentes and Cipolla each went 3-for-4 in the contest, as they had the only multi-hit games for Holy Cross. Both teams had nine hits apiece.
In the second game of the best-of-three series, Bucknell was the home team. As the visitor, Holy Cross wasted little time, scoring a run in the first inning to go on top 1-0. Enos drove in Puentes on an RBI-single for the game's first run.
Holy Cross added another run in the top of the second inning. Cipolla led off the frame with a walk and moved over to second on a ground out during the next at-bat. Two batters later, Maldonado plated Cipolla on a single up the middle to give Holy Cross the 2-0 lead.
The Crusaders added the final run of the contest in the top half of the third inning. With one out, Puentes continued his torrid stretch at the plate with a single up the middle. After a wild pitch moved him over to second, Enos again drove in Puentes on an RBI-single to put Holy Cross ahead 3-0.
Bucknell left two runners on base in the sixth inning, as it failed to score, but its best chance to chip into the lead came in the eighth. With one out, the Bison threatened with runners on second and third, but Colella came in for his second relief appearance of the afternoon and got the final two outs in the eighth.
Colella would close the door, earning his second save of the day and Patriot League-leading eighth of the season. He did not allow a hit, as he fanned three batters in 1.2 innings of work. Colella is now the Patriot League all-time career saves leader with 28 total.
Murray improved his record to 7-3 on the season, as he pitched 7.1 innings and allowed only three hits, while retiring eight by way of the K. Bucknell pitcher Dan Weigel was charged with the loss (2-8) as the lefty pitched seven innings and surrendered three earned runs and six hits, while striking out six batters.
Puentes and Enos each had two hits in the second game, as the Crusaders outhit Bucknell 6-3. The Bison left 11 runners on base, while Holy Cross left seven men on.
The game was halted in the top of the sixth inning due to a 55 minute rain delay.